Data Protection: What is new in 2016? A workshop for Charities and Social Enterprises – Review

Disclaimer: I attended this data protection workshop for charities by Anthony Collins solicitors on the 26th of February 2016. I’ve summarised some impacts for charities and nonprofits and provided suggestions for further research and resources. I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV!), so please take this as my own opinion and seek legal advice appropriate to your situation.

Anthony Collins solicitors are well located in Birmingham city centre. They provided a lovely setting for the workshop, as well as a delicious lunch. I highly recommend their future workshops. This one was free but the presenters were knowledgeable professionals, so I would consider paid workshops in furue.

I enjoyed the day and learned a lot, meeting some wonderful fundraiser from charities around Birmingham. Not only did Jane Burns cover a wide range of changes to data protection and their impact on charities, she was gracious enough to thoughtfully consider questions during her much needed tea break.

Here’s a summary of my notes:

What is data protection?
The Data Protection Act is there to protect your personal information and how it’s used. See Data Protection guidance on for more information.

How is data protection changing?
The underlying issue of data protection revolves around clear, specific, freely given consent. This is especially crucial with the proposed EU-wide data protection regulation.

How does data protection affect my charity?
Data protection around charity governance is high profile, with no latitude or perceived latitude in enforcement. The Charity Commission, the registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, has especially focussed on the need to harden compliance.

Which organisations are involved with data protection in the charity sector?

  • ICO  – The Information Commissioner’s Office, the office responsible for the enforcement of the Data Protection Act 1998, and Freedom of Information, have emphasised the importance of dealing with data protection at a strategic as well as an operational level.
  • FRSB – The Fundraising Standards Board, the fundraising regular  and PACAC – the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, have advised that data protection especially affects trustees and governance.

After the session, I came up with some considerations for charities and nonprofits who publish open data:

  • Consent: If data release may compromise privacy e.g. locations of where funding was raised or given, do you have clear, specific consent from beneficiaries to publish this information as open data?
  • Privacy Notices: Do you have a privacy notice which indicates what data is held and how it is used? Does the privacy notice mention open data publication?
  • Broad Consent: Soft or broad opt-ins may be insufficient

Who can I speak to about data protection at my charit or protecting data when publishing as open data as a nonprofit?

This is a shortlist, please do your own research!

Are there any resources about data protection or data anonymisation for my charity?

You can also look at my resources for some pointers: Winning with data for charities and nonprofits

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